Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
Toronto is great for making movies on the cheap, and there is arguably no genre more amenable to making a quick buck than horror.
As we’ve already seen, Toronto was crucial to the success of torture porn, hosting all six of the Saw sequels. In that context it’s rather disappointing to see we only hosted one of the five films in the Child’s Play series, but what a sequel!
Bride of Chucky is self-aware enough not to take its premise—a serial killer is trapped in the body of a doll—very seriously. Whether it uses this self-awareness to any great scary or comedic effect is open to debate.
The human cast provides a bit of amusement, with the Canadian gal Jennifer Tilly game for just about anything…
…and the late, great John Ritter as a cop…
…and Katherine Heigl as his daughter, long before she got famous on Grey’s Anatomy, had big screen success with Knocked Up, and then decided to burn both those bridges in favour of a career as the shrill, flustered star of innumerable, unmemorable rom-coms.
Anyway, we all know Toronto is the real star here, right? Right. If you’re an expert on Toronto windows (and how could you not be?) you’d recognize this building as the old Consumer’s Gas building on Parliament.
The rather empty interior has since been renovated into 51 Division headquarters.
This wedding chapel is supposed to be in Niagara Falls, but West Hill isn’t in Niagra Falls! Nope, this is out on Kingston Road. The cycle shop now appears to be a dry cleaner.
You don’t really get a good look at it but this motel, also ostensibly in Niagara Falls, is the late, great Hillcrest.
Hey, it’s a TTC streetcar!
Given its lack of landmarks, it’s hard to say just where this is, but the transom back there shows this is mos def the 407.
Aaaaand, we’re also tossing Repo! The Genetic Opera in here because…
- It’s also a horror flick (albeit one that dabbles in irony more than a little bit).
- Even though it was shot here, it’s entirely studiobound so there’s nothing really Torontoish to show you.
Indeed, the film shares a tonne of production credits (starting with the director) with the similarly studiobound Saw flicks. They even dined out at Terroni, just like the Saw crew!
What’s most interesting about Repo! is its messed-up provenance. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a “horror-rock-opera” film about this weirdo future where people harvest organs and it’s based on a play.
Things get peculiar because, right around when this was being turned into a film, in 2008, some bigtime Hollywood honchos started making a movie with a very similar plot, albeit with less music.
This would eventually become the 2010 film, Repo Men. (Just to be clear: Repo Men, which was known as Repossession Mambo during filming, is neither a remake of Repo!, nor a sequel to Repo Man. Got it?) Anyway, Repo Men had a much bigger budget and, somewhat ironically, also shot here but actually out on location.
There was all sorts of debate about the degree to which Repo Men ripped off Repo! The Genetic Opera but one thing everyone agreed about was that both movies were rather inferior. At least the musical has some cult cache on which to fall back.
As for Repo Men? That’s better for spotting locations, but not much else.